Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Clark Ashton Smith, The Wilderlands of High Fantasy, & S1 Gary Gygax's Tomb of Horrors As Old School Campaign

 A few days ago I posted about 'Judges Guild 'Wilderlands of High Fantasy' & Gary Gygax's B2 'Keep on the Borderlands' As Old School Campaign' on the blog. And over the last couple of day this blog entry has me thinking about 'The Arduin Grimoire'. For those of you who don't know of my love of these books let me assure you that they have coloured my campaigns for decades. 

Last night I went back into 'Into The Cities'.dot.com webpress blog and came across the following little nugget; "There’s another version of the Wilderlands over here. Scott Driver’s version is heavily influenced by Clark Ashton Smith.

Check this out:

“The City State of the Invincible Overlord is an ancient, decadent metropolis surrounded by howling wilderness and ruled by a grim tyrant. Its precincts are prowled by grasping merchants, ruthless slavers, cunning thieves, hollow-eyed whores, and the ululating thralls of weird cults. Beneath its cobbled streets and reeking sewers lies a sprawling labyrinth teeming with foul creatures and brimming with forgotten treasures and forbidden lore." 
So Clark Ashton Smith, The Wilderlands of Hight Fantasy & more?!  You can find Scott Driver's Wilderlands on the Wayback machine here!  Driver goes on with the following; "A pronounced fondness is evinced for fungi, vermiforms, slimes, pods, cephalopods, gastropods, mutants, human-animal amalgams, dark cults, body horror, unspeakable tentacular booglies, anachronisms, purple prose, and gamer humor." 

The idea of B2 Keep on the Borderlands adventure locations surrounded by a mix of Robert E. Howard & Clark Ashton Smith inspired wilderness has very deadly implications. What about the village of Hommlet being a forgotten piece of these border fortresses along the edges of  'The City state of the Invincible Overlord'. If this is the case then perhaps S1 'The Tomb of Horrors' by Gary Gygax might also find a place within such a wilderness expanse. Now let's think about this for a moment, we've got a Clark Aston Smith inspired Wilderlands. The tomb dungeon & its occupant could be left alone by the Invincible Overlord to kill off any up & coming adventurer rivals. 

If we go with these CAS's influences  then S1 Tomb of Horror makes a certain amount of sense. The idea of a gallows humor dungeon & tomb with its lich king testing adventurers out in the wild wastelands & wilderness makes a lot of sense. Steve Wach of Red Pub Games also has a free set of maps available here for S1 Tomb of Horror 

Meanwhile the idea of a CAS inspired Wilderlands goes a long way towards roping in some of the ideas of the Arduin Grimoire. The alien influences, the nexus gates, forgotten technologies, etc. all point to an Arduin inspired connection. 

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